Federal Judges Order California to Release Prisoners Early

Image: Federal Judges Order California to Release Prisoners Early

Friday, 21 Jun 2013 11:41 AM

By Melanie Batley

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California Gov. Jerry Brown has been ordered to release thousands of state prison inmates before they serve their full sentences on the condition they behave well, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The early release order issued Thursday by a panel of federal judges is designed to address prison overcrowding and was a slap on the wrist to Brown and the state, which the judges said has not done enough to address the problem.

"The history of this litigation is of defendants' repeated failure to take the necessary steps to remedy the constitutional violations in its prison system," Judges Stephen Reinhardt, Lawrence Karlton, and Thelton Henderson wrote in Thursday's order.

"It is defendants' unwillingness to comply with this Court's orders that requires us to order additional relief today."

According to the Journal, Brown issued a statement immediately following the decision, declaring that California would seek "an immediate stay of this unprecedented order." The Democrat pledged in May that he would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court any order to lower the prison population.

For his part, Brown says he has already taken adequate steps to tackle the issue, and contends that shortened prison stays would pose an undue risk to public safety.

California has struggled for years to contain its rising prison population, which at its height reached 163,000 in 2006. In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the state must reduce prison overcrowding, and judges have since recommended that inmate numbers be cut from their current level of 119,000 to roughly 110,000 by the end of this year.


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